When I was in Los Angeles for KCON 2016, Annie from Love X Stereo asked if I ever heard Akua. I told her I knew the name, but never had a chance to hear their music. She plugged in her iPhone into the rental car and started playing their music. I’m not sure if Fresh Always On was the album she played, but Akua released two EPs on the same day. Along with Fresh Always On, Drink! Refreshing Dream, Sink Into Akua also came out. In total, both EPs sum up to ten songs. Fresh Always On is shorter with only four songs, but the band’s shoegaze dream pop sound comes through these four songs without a problem.
The title track is “Fresh Always On.” It’s a song that promotes being lazy, sitting at the beach or pool, and just laying back and listening to music while watching the clouds. The tempo isn’t necessarily slow, but the grooves feel like things are slowing down. “Fresh Always On” has a lot of repeating verses, but the dream pop tone really comes through the instrumentals while the vocals sit slightly behind the music. “Akua Diving” is similar to “Fresh Always On.” The band has cemented their shoegaze lo-fi sound and it is presented on every song. Fresh Always On actually makes me a little tired when listening because it’s so laid back.
This EP only runs a little over fifteen minutes, but each song with capture your interest. Even though Akua play a mixture of shoegaze, lo-fi, and dream pop, I also feel like a slight surf rock influence that wanders in and out. “Melody” is an instrumental track that is a perfect way to end the night. It has a clean sound and the melody is welcoming. Ending with “Unlucky Days,” Akua present a differing tone to the more upbeat track, but still manage to end the EP leaving you wondering what’s on Drink! Refreshing Dream, Sink Into Akua.
Akua definitely stand out. It’s partially because they play shoegaze, which is a harder genre to find new bands in, but also because they mix in lo-fi and dream pop. Fresh Always On is an excellent four song EP. It introduces and wraps up quickly, but the feeling of the EP is longer than the actual play time.